interview

Blaze Pub's Haunted Halloween Tour with Case Maynard! by Ryan Hill

 

October is the month of fears, and we're going on tour with some of our favorite authors to talk about what their main characters are afraid of. What keeps them up at night? What nightmare has them waking in a cold sweat? Each day, we'll feature a new main character and delve deep into their subconscious to see what they fear. And each day, you'll have a chance to enter to win some awesome prizes! We met Vee from our recent dystopian release The Surrendered, but now we're getting to know her a bit better by finding out what haunts her each night when she closes her eyes... 

My name is Vee Delancourt, and my biggest fear is all about failure. In a world where the nation abuses its children in unspeakable ways, losing this fight just isn’t an option. I hope I can prove myself worthy of the trust so many have put in me. I hope I can one day redeem myself for the mistakes that I’ve already made. . .and for the lives that have already been lost.

She’s here, my old friend is. Stalking my sleep again.

Well, not her exactly, but some version of her. While the pale skin is the same, if maybe a shade lighter, the hesitant smiles I once marveled at have disappeared. A twisted scowl now decorates her gray lips. Grayish. Not quite blue; not quite white. The color of death.

“You,” she snarls at me, one thin finger aimed in my direction. “You killed us all.”

I shake my head, backing until I come in contact with something. I don’t have to look to know it’s the big covered truck from Hopkins Farm. I’ve been here before, in these very Mills, on this very day. It’s the day that everything changed. The day I escaped the System and set into motion a chain of events that would forever change the lives of so many people. Not all for the better.

My ethereal pursuer continues to advance on me, and my heart races wildly in my chest. “I didn’t mean to!” I cry, pleading with her to understand. “I didn’t know so many would die!”

“Die, die, die. We’re all dead. We died. We’re done. Dead.” Babbling is her only response.

My chest squeezes. Something’s not right. Isn’t there supposed to be peace in the beyond? A great releasement of all the bad experiences? A big screw you to all who did you wrong? This is unfair.

 She hesitates in her advance, her feet floating stationary over the dirt path for one moment. Her head tilts slightly, as though listening to sounds in the distance. She grimaces, shudders, and then moans. “They beckon. They call. . ..” She throws her head back, wailing, “No! I will not go!”

I cover my ears at the thunderous howl, releasing a scream of my own. “Let me help you! Let me fix this!”

Another murderous shriek sounds as I step toward her. “I don’t want to go! Make it stop! I WILL NOT GO!”

I sob, the gasping sounds ripped from my chest as I struggle to stay upright. I feel the blackness trying to take me even now. “Please. Please let me make this right.”

Her head drops forward, drool running from her mouth and over her chin. Colorless eyes swing back to me, and in them I see a sorrow unlike any I have ever witnessed. “You’ve done enough, little rebel. Selfish. Unthinking. Ignorant, rebel. You killed us all.”

“No.” My head continues to deny, but my heart twists at the knowledge that she’s. . .right. She’s dead because of me. Tears overspill my eyes, tracking marks through the grime on my cheeks. I choke. “But I was only trying to help you.”

Her bark of laughter startles me and I jerk in surprise when her finger points again, this time to my left. “Fail. Failing. Failed.” She cackles. And what of them? Will you help them too?”

My head turns.

They’re all there. My dear, sweet friends. Ann and John William. Cason. Matthew. My father. The Overseer. The Master. Asa. All the children. There are so many of them, both known and unknown.

All with the same murderous intent.

To make me pay.

about the book

 

After a financial collapse devastates the United States, the new government imposes a tax on the nation’s most valuable resource—the children.

Surrendered at age ten—after her parents could no longer afford her exorbitant fees—Vee Delancourt has spent six hard years at the Mills, alongside her twin, Oliver. With just a year to freedom, they do what they can to stay off the Master’s radar. But when Vee discovers unspeakable things happening to the younger girls in service, she has no choice but to take a stand—a decision that lands her on the run and outside the fence for the first time since the System robbed her of her liberty.

Vee knows the Master will stop at nothing to prove he holds ultimate authority over the Surrendered. But when he makes a threat that goes beyond what even she considers possible, she accepts the aid of an unlikely group of allies. Problem is, with opposing factions gunning for the one thing that might save them all, Vee must find a way to turn oppression and desperation into hope and determination—or risk failing all the children and the brother she left behind.

Now available!

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THE CARVER'S Jacob Devlin Steps Into THE AUTHORDOME by Ryan Hill

 

Full disclosure: I've only read maybe 35 pages of Jacob Devlin's debut THE CARVER. Not because it's bad - on the contrary, I'm digging it. There are a lot of moving parts, and Jacob isn't rushing to have them converge, which I love. It's the sign of a good storyteller. 

No, I haven't read more because I've been knee deep in edits for THE BOOK OF BART - VERSE 2. It's amazing how sometimes it takes 30-45 minutes to come up with one throwaway joke that the reader may do little more than smirk at.

But I digress. It's time... FOR ANOTHER EDITION OF AUTHORDOME!

Two authors enter.

Two authors leave.

THE GIRL IN THE RED HOOD has been looking for her mother for six months, searching from the depths of New York’s subways to the heights of its skyscrapers . . . 

THE PRINCE looks like he’s from another time entirely, or maybe he’s just too good at his job at Ye Old Renaissance Faire . . . 

THE ACTRESS is lighting up Hollywood Boulevard with her spellbinding and strikingly convincing portrayal of a famous fairy. Her name may be big, but her secrets barely fit in one world . . . 

Fifteen-year-old Crescenzo never would have believed his father’s carvings were anything more than “stupid toys.” All he knows is a boring life in an ordinary Virginia suburb, from which his mother and his best friend have been missing for years. When his father disappears next, all Crescenzo has left is his goofy neighbor, Pietro, who believes he’s really Peter Pan and that Crescenzo is the son of Pinocchio. What’s more: Pietro insists that they can find their loved ones by looking to the strange collection of wooden figurines Crescenzo’s father left behind. 

With Pietro’s help, Crescenzo sets off on an adventure to unite the real life counterparts to his figurines. It’s enough of a shock that they’re actually real, but the night he meets the Girl in the Red Hood, dark truths burst from the past. Suddenly, Crescenzo is tangled in a nightmare where magic mirrors and evil queens rule, and where everyone he loves is running out of time.

Link to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29918359-the-carver

Purchase Links:

BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo TBD | iBooks

Can Jacob fictitiously survive THE AUTHORDOME? Let's find out...

THE CARVER is a road trip novel. What's your favorite road trip book/movie/etc.? THE CARVER is an acceptable answer. 

ZOMBIELAND is definitely an eternal fave. I think I’ll always be partial to those goofy movies about the Griswolds though, especially VEGAS VACATION. If THE CARVER becomes a movie one day, it is my secret wish that “Holiday Road” goes on the soundtrack :-P

Are there any classic characters you wanted to include in THE CARVER that you weren't able to? 

In the earliest draft before Blaze (Publishing - the pub that released THE CARVER) even saw the manuscript, Tarzan was part of the Order, but something didn’t feel right about that. I also wanted to bring out some familiar Oz names in bigger roles, which are in the public domain, but there was already so much going on in both THE CARVER and the world of Oz retellings. I imagine Dorothy and friends are probably running around in the background somewhere, but I’m going to leave that up to the reader’s imagination. 

Are you familiar with THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN? That's supposedly a great Alan Moore graphic novel series, but it was such a crappy film it forced Sean Connery into retirement. Anyway. Are you familiar with the property? Do you see any parallels between it and THE CARVER? 

Hey, I saw that movie! But I liked the idea of the movie better than I liked the actual movie. I’ve always been a big fan of mashups, crossovers, and letting worlds collide, so I can definitely see the parallel.

You've recently taken up sword fighting, correct? How do you think Pinocchio would fare in a sword fight? I feel like his opponent would just chip away at him, piece by piece. 

Yessss! I’m officially a “white belt” in Haidong Gumdo, which isn’t an impressive accomplishment. But see, I actually feel like Pinocchio has the advantage. Because I’d be over there trying to block his sword, but he could just run around spewing lies and gain the advantage. Either his nose could skewer me, or I’d get so tired of infinitely hacking at it that I’d just, like, black out or something.

Speaking of swords, how heavy is the one you wield? Does having one make you wonder how people in the Middle Ages could fight with one while also wearing a suit of metal? Seems kind of crazy to me. 

Ha! It’s one of those long wooden practice bokkens, which is probably less than two pounds. Sometimes after spending 75 minutes flinging it around though, it hurts to lift a pencil, so I have crazy respect for anybody who can run around with a real sword while wearing armor and balancing on a horse!

Does your sword have a name? If not, it should. Even King Arthur's sword was named Excalibur. 

I was actually thinking about this on my way home today! I haven’t settled on one yet, but I’ve thought of a few options: Godric (Eh! Get it, because of Gryffindor?), Veturius (except I already named my car that, so…), or something totally unassuming like, maybe Larry. Because nobody would ever be afraid of a Larry, right? So its terrible power would catch my enemies way off guard.

Ryan note: Definitely go with Larry. Or Bob. Not even Google knows who Veturius was. GOOGLE!

Next up for you is a novella set in THE CARVER's universe. What else do you have coming up? Any other series planned? How many installments do you foresee for THE CARVER? 

If I can finish the story in three novels, that’s what I’m aiming for. The hope was always a trilogy because it would be a nice tribute to the central trio of Pinocchio, Alice, and Peter Pan, or for each of their kids. There will also be a number of novellas released in between to offer backstories on the other characters and worlds. It’s strange, exciting and a little sad to think about, but the series needs an endgame, and it’s only a matter of time before I finish the story of THE CARVER and need to branch out into new material. I have three fun ideas written down that I’ve been hanging onto for a while (little teaser: sea demons, aliens, or reality shows). We’ll see what calls to me first!

Do you have any other creative re-imaginings floating around in your head, like making ALICE IN WONDERLAND about some hippy in 1960s San Francisco that's always tripping on psychedelics, which is why it's called ALICE IN WONDERLAND? If you haven't, you can have that Alice idea. Free of charge. 

Dude, I would totally read that! Wonderland’s actually my focus for THE CARVER’s sequel and it’s been a blast to play around with such an iconic place. One of my three ideas from the last question may or may not have elements of THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF if I ever get to it. Otherwise, I’d love to sink my teeth into an Inferno twist one day! But do I really wanna mess with Dante, though? Like, really really?

Ryan note: No. Stay away from Dante and his Inferno. That stuff falls into BOOK OF BART territory. I'd have to fight you. I've never swung a sword, so you've got me there. I'd have to pull a Bart and show up in a tux, rocking a Walther PPK. DO NOT DOUBT ME!

In haiku format, tell us why we should read/buy THE CARVER. 

Wait, that's five words, right?
Followed by five other words?
Forgot how these work.

Ummm...

Peter Pan grew up.
Why's Hansel acting so strange?
Let's take a road trip.

Thanks Jacob!

Thank YOU man!

Q&A with CHARMING author Krystal Wade by Ryan Hill

 

Krystal Wade's CHARMING released on Oct. 6, and if you haven't read it, well... you should. Because it's good. The CINDERELLA meets SAW mash-up is a dark, thrilling YA novel with plenty of creepy twists and turns. 


Wade was also brave enough to endure my own brand of Author Q&A. See, I don't like to ask the typical questions. Having been on the other side of these interviews, I know it can get tiring answering variations of the same question a million times. So, without further adieu... WE BEGIN.

On the surface, a novel titled CHARMING seems sweet and gooey, but then one look at the cover for your CHARMING and it looks like a bloody mess. Why the juxtaposition? Do you enjoy toying with people?

Umm. Do you know me? I mean, like, really KNOW me? Of COURSE I love toying with people. Don’t you? That’s part of what makes being an author so amazing, so powerful, being able to guide people’s emotions just so you can whip out a plot twist and make them cry. Or something. Am I right? :-)

How do you go about trying to scare readers? Are there any tricks you employ, or do you just put a picture of a gross monster face in your book?

Well, there’s throwing the occasional monster in your face, but that doesn’t really happen in this book. Check out WILDE'S FIRE if you like monsters. Plenty of them in that whole series. I especially like the Crossing Caves scene in book three. But, with Charming, I can’t say that I intentionally tried to scare people, except with the occasional chopped off appendage. That was fun, not for the poor sap who’s now missing an appendage, but you get my drift! Oh, and I scare people with emotions, real, horrifying emotions!

Did you study any books or movies to help with setting the tone in CHARMING, or to help bolster the frights? I know, personally, one viewing of GLEE will scare the heck out of me.

GLEE scares you? I thought GLEE would actually make you WANT to kill someone, though, to be honest, I really, really enjoyed the first couple seasons of that show. The cheerleading coach was my favorite. But, no, I didn’t have to watch any frightening things on the tube because I’ve had enough frightening things happen in my life to help me there.

You wrote CHARMING for one of your daughters, correct? You have two other children. Do you know what kind of books you'll write for them? Are you worried your teenaged son will be grossed out by the fact that his mom is writing about him?

No! Are you nuts? I wrote SHATTERED SECRETS for one of my daughters. No way would I put one of my namesakes through what Haley has to deal with in CHARMING. But I am writing a book for each kid. Abby has SHATTERED SECRETS, Clarissa will have a sci-fi (working title LOST), and Ethan will have to wait until he’s not so much of an a**hole for me to write a book about him. I doubt he’d appreciate anything I have to say about his gross, stinky, 14-year-old self.

When writing a scary scene, do you have to fight off the urge to cackle out loud, like you're some kind of demented trickster, setting a trap for your unwitting readers?

Why, yes, yes I do. But then I usually fail and end up cackling anyway. I really, really enjoy the demented scenes that involve serial killer stuff. The other, closer to home scenes, where Haley is dealing with abuse at home? I don’t enjoy writing those so much because they are triggers for pain I’ve encountered in life. But they are real and essential to this story. And while I’m being serious for a moment, if you or someone you know is dealing with abuse at home, please reach out to this anonymous hotline: https://www.childwelfare.gov/responding/how.cfm (Ed. note: Seriousness like this is RARELY tolerated in a Q&A, but Krystal's right on this one)

Your previous works have been in the fantasy/urban fantasy genre. CHARMING is a mash-up between a fairy tale and SAW. Can you explain what the transition from one genre to another was like, or can CHARMING still sort of fall into your other books' category, since it's kind of based on a fairy tale and all? This is just more trickery on your part, isn't it Wade? ISN'T IT??

Slow down, Ryan. I’m positive you’re way overthinking this genre/category/branding of mine here. I write ALL THE CREEPY things. I made up my own demons in the DARKNESS FALLS trilogy. I made up murderous spirits who kidnap young girls in SHATTERED SECRETS, and CHARMING deals with a serial killer who likes to teach people a lesson through horrible means. So, um, I’m still writing scary. The only difference was working within the laws of our own world. And that actually made my job a lot easier, if I do say so myself. Which I do. I’ve always wondered why people say that.

Pop quiz. You find out a serial killer is after you, your friends, and your family, a la CHARMING. What do you do? Go to the hardware store and buy a nail gun? High tail it out of town? Hire a MMA fighter to protect you?

I would cower in a corner and cry and cry and cry. But my characters? They’re a bit tougher than I am. They would prefer to seek out clues to help save everyone. So… they’d probably buy nail guns, pocket knives, and whatever else MacGyver kept handy to help himself out of any and every situation.


Okay. Time for a somewhat serious question. (Ed. note: The previous sentence makes my last note look hypocritical. I'm okay with this) The YA market really seems to be shifting away from fantasy and toward contemporary stories. Why do you think that is? Saying because CHARMING is a contemporary story, so naturally everyone would follow your lead is NOT an acceptable answer.

You just forbade me from answering your question.

Okay, fine, I just think that so many authors write in the paranormal/fantasy genre that it’s flooded, and readers are tired of reading the same stories over and over. So they reach out for contemporary. Eventually they’ll tire of this as well. But don’t get me wrong. People are still reading paranormal/fantasy in droves. They’re still loving it too, but it’s going to be much more difficult to make a name for yourself in that genre when 1 million other authors are doing the same.

The main character in CHARMING literally goes through hell in the story. As a writer, how did you deal with that? Did it drive you to drink every night, feeling sorry for what you were doing to this character? Or, are you just a cold, heartless woman who takes a sick amount of glee in torturing people that aren't real and only exist in their mind?

You just used literally wrong, which means I cannot and will not answer your question until you rephrase this. So, you’ll never know whether it took alcohol to write this, or whether I’m just sick and twisted. Sorry!

In haiku format, please explain why readers should rush out and purchase CHARMING.

*looks up haiku format because she can’t remember back to grade school*

Amidst fall leaves

a finger shows up

chaos ensues

Yeah, I’m not sure how my teacher would grade me for that, but it was worth a shot. Like to see you come up with something better in less than five minutes, Ryan! (Ed note No. 3: Nobody gave you a time limit, Wade. You did that to yourself)